The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Former university orchestra conductor files harassment, discrimination lawsuit against University of Iowa

Former conductor Mélisse Brunet filed a lawsuit alleging issues of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Jeff Sigmund
The Voxman Music Building is seen on Monday, Feb. 23, 2021.

Mélisse Brunet, a former University of Iowa School of Music conductor and assistant professor, sued the UI reportedly for sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, retaliation, and unequal pay violations of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

Brunet filed the lawsuit on Jan. 30 in Polk County District Court. She resigned from the UI in May 2023.

Listed in the lawsuit are UI Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies Alan Huckleberry and UI School of Music Director Tammie Walker.

According to the lawsuit, Huckleberry made sexual remarks while serving as Brunet’s designated mentor. Brunet said Huckleberry would talk about his sex life with his wife and multiple sex partners during their weekly meetings.

On numerous occasions, Huckleberry invited Brunet to his home, according to the lawsuit.

In November 2021, Brunet requested a new mentor. As a result, Huckleberry allegedly told Brunet he would ruin her career at the university. In October 2022, Huckleberry removed his support for Brunet in the department according to the lawsuit.

Huckleberry undermined Brunet’s efforts to receive tenure and created disagreements between Brunet and her supervisor Walker, according to the lawsuit.

Brunet alleged she was underpaid compared to her male counterparts in the School of Music. The male director who held the position before Brunet was allegedly paid at least $11,000 more than Brunet when he started.

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The male director was also allegedly offered tenure which Brunet was not. Walker reportedly failed to support her during her time as the School of Music’s director.

Brunet allegedly filed complaints about this conduct to the university’s ombudsman, the Title IX office, human resources, the dean of liberal arts and sciences, and the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

These allegations are not the first time UI School of Music faculty have come under scrutiny in recent years. Former UI music school professor John Muriello was sentenced in July 2023 after pleading guilty to possessing child porn and distributing meth.

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